Town & Places - Chitral

The Chitral district is believed to have inspired Rudyard Kipling's The Man Who Would Be King. It was renowned as much for its scenic splendour and its valleys that are home to the unique Kalash tribe, as for the Trich Mir peak. The overland route is through two Passes. The Lowari Pass (3,118m) connects Chitral with Dir, and the Shandoor Pass (4,000m) connects it with the upper Gilgit Valley. The principal town, also called Chitral, is 1,500m above secHevel and can be reached by one of the most thrilling plane rides in the country. Skirting high mountain peaks, the aircraft descends into a valley that is a winding mosaic of green crops, fruit orchards and shades of lush foliage. The town sprawls along the Chitral River and has expanded considerably over the last few years because of its importance .as a commercial centre and tourist stop. Chitral also hosts the world famous, annual, week-long mountain-polo tournament when this game is played in the rougher, original manner.

The Mehtar's Fort, on the banks of the Chitral River, sports some fine old pieces of artillery. Site of the 1895 siege, it is still used by the family of the Mehtar. The old Shahi Masjid, in close proximity, suffered from an earthquake in the second decade of the twentieth century. The Mehtar Shuja ul-Mulk (1919-24), reconstructed the minarets, added domes and refurbished the mosque. The colonial-style bungalow
of the Political Agent, now District Coordination Officer, embellished with some of the largest Urial and Marco Polo sheep heads, was visited by Princess Diana during her trip to Pakistan. The signature of the late wife of the Prince of Wales is a covet¬ed addition to the visitors' book. The residence has a terraced garden where fruit trees bloom and blossom in spring. It has a private swimming pool and some of the oldest Chinar trees in the area. The dining room with a sky-light is built to the traditional architectural design of the Kalash.

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